ESD #4 budget, tax vote soon; EMS response times, maps to be discussed more

Medina County’s Emergency Service District #4 (ESD#4) is looking at slightly higher revenues in the coming year while reducing its tax rate.
The district, which covers Devine and Natalia, anticipates receiving $413,998 in tax revenue during fiscal 2021. That’s up from $408,141 for the current year ending Sept. 30.

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ESD#4 expenses for fiscal 2021 are expected to total $268,630. Included in this amount is the $200,000 annual contract with Allegiance ambulance service. That figure remains the same from fiscal 2020.
Excess funds – listed at $147,155 in the district’s proposed budget — will be kept in a capital reserve account.
Currently, the district reports having $465,940 in a local checking account and two interest-bearing accounts. No debts were listed.
The ESD#4 volunteer board is proposing to reduce the tax rate from $0.0495 per $100 assessed valuation to $0.0465, a 6.06 percent decrease.
With average homestead taxable values in the district increasing 7.25 percent ($115,360 to $123,726), the tax on an average homestead would rise one dollar, from $57 to $58 (a 0.75 percent increase), according to calculations by the Medina County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office.
A public hearing on the proposed budget and tax rate will be conducted at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 21 at 206 Dixon Drive, Devine. The ESD#4 board will vote after the hearing.
In addition to serving Devine and Natalia, ESD#4 has mutual aid agreements with neighboring communities, including Lytle. Devine’s Dixon Drive station is staffed 24 hours while Natalia is on 12-hour schedules.
Christy Merendon, ESD#4 administrator, said Allegiance responds to an average of 150-185 calls per month. Crews answered 179 calls in August, with an average response time of 8.6 minutes.
The longest delay in August was 33 minutes to an address that could not be found on an Allegiance crew’s maps. A few calls had response times of 20 minutes.
Citing the lengthier response times, ESD#4 President Elizabeth Leonesio reiterated the need for more up-to-date maps of the district’s service area. The district has been seeking updates since September 2019.
“We’re hitting a brick wall on this,” Leonesio said.
Merendon said the matter is also scheduled to be discussed at the Sept. 21 meeting.
By Kenric Ward

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